OPINION   
Editor's Note
Inaction
One of the biggest problems with pursuing a case involving our migrant workers is often the lack of complainants willing to pursue their case.

This not surprising, especially in a place like Hong Kong where workers have no security of tenure. All it takes is a month's notice from the employer, or pay in lieu, and the worker could be thrown out into the streets, no matter which part of the world she had come from. Details...

Anak Araw
Bagong babala
Nitong nakaraang buwan ay naibalita ng press office ng gubyerno ng Hong Kong, na nakipagtulungan ang HK Police upang maipahuli ang mga kasapi ng isang tinatawag na "Naked Chat Blackmail" syndicate sa Pilipinas, Ayon sa report, walong Pilipino ang nahuli ng Philippine National Police sa Bulacan -- limang lalaki at tatlong babae. Maliban sa kanila, limang menor de edad ang iniligtas mula sa sindikatong ito. Details...

Migrant's Forum
Upon their return, what?
Gemma Macalaging had been through some rough times in her short overseas employment stint in Qatar. At one time, she was only eating dates she had picked off the ground because the family fed her left-overs. At other times, the wife of the employer was screaming at her for looking directly at the husband's eyes. Most of the time, she only had two to three hours sleep. Details...

Know Your Rights
What to end when contract is ending
When a contract is about to end, the main concern of a foreign domestic worker is whether or not the contract will be renewed. Many of the calls we received in the past month were inquiries on what should be done if there is only a month or a few weeks left in the current contract and a worker has not heard of a clear decision by the employer on whether it will be renewed. Details...

BUHAY PINAY   
Laya na sana

See this month's stories...

NEWS FROM HOME   
Law enforcers, law breakers

See this month's stories...

COMMUNITY   
Bethune House marks 28th year serving distressed FDWs
Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih may have cast the spotlight anew on Bethune House Migrant Workers Refuge, but this church-run shelter has been doing its life-saving and life-changing work for the past 28 years.
See this month's stories...

SPORTS   
New martial arts group launched

See this month's stories...

Chinese Horoscope   
Ano ang hatid ng Setyembre sa iyo

See this month's stories...

Chinese Horoscope   
Filipino technology

See this month's stories...

Your Daily News   
  GMANews
  Phil. Daily Inquirer
  Manila Times

  May 2013 Hong Kong News   
Filipina appeals removal order to be with resident kid
A Filipina fighting to remain in Hong Kong to be with her underage daughter who holds permanent resident status here has elevated her battle to the Court of Appeal.

Milagros Tecson Comilang, a former domestic helper, has appealed a decision of the Court of First Instance rejecting her challenge to the Director of Immigration's repeated refusal to extend her permission to stay in the territory.

The Court of Appeal has reserved its judgment after hearing arguments on Apr. 16.

The lower court ruling, which was handed down in June last year, also denied Comilang's petition for a judicial review of the Commissioner of Registration's rejection of her application for a Hong Kong permanent identity card.

The outcome of the case could have serious implications for all Filipino children who have been granted right of abode, but whose parents do not share this status. Such is the case of about two dozen children of Filipino domestic workers who were granted permanent residency about three to four years ago.

At the appeal hearing, Comilang's counsel, Gladys Li, SC, described the legal proceeding before Justices Peter Cheung, Frank Stock and Joseph Paul Fok as a special case involving a child who is underage, a minority and who requires the constant presence of a parent.

Comilang first came to the city in 1997. Shortly after her last contract was terminated on July 13, 2005, she underwent an Islamic marriage with a certain Shaker Ahmed, a Hong Kong permanent resident. She subsequently applied for a change of her immigration status to remain in the city as a dependant of her husband.

Pending the processing of her application, the Director of Immigration did not extend Comilang's permission to stay, which expired on Oct. 10, 2005.

Then, in February 2006, the already overstaying Comilang gave birth to Zahrah Ahmed, who acquired permanent resident status through her father and by virtue of her being born in Hong Kong.

Ahmed, the husband, was subsequently discovered to be in a subsisting marriage at the time he married Comilang. He later withdrew his sponsorship of the Filipina's change of status application.

Since then, Comilang has resisted several orders for her leave so she could stay with her daughter, whom she wants to remain in the territory to enjoy her rights as a permanent resident. The child is a co-applicant in the case.

While recognizing the state's right to control who stays in Hong Kong, Li argued that the immigration department should allow a custodial parent the right to stay in the interest of the child.

The Court, warned Li, should consider the impact of their decision because, in compelling Comilang to leave, the child essentially loses her right of abode.

Li also questioned the fairness of allowing unmarried children below 18 years of age to be dependants of parents, and yet denying the same right to a resident child and her parent.

On the other hand, Anderson Shek, counsel for the Director of Immigration, wanted the Court to clarify what a child's right of abode entailed.

"To what extent can (the child's right of abode) be relied upon (by) the mother (who has) no right of abode?" asked Shek.

Foreign nationals are allowed to sponsor their relatives as dependants. In exceptional cases, the Director of Immigration also has the discretion to allow other foreign nationals to stay in Hong Kong on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

However, in the appealed 50-page judgment, Presiding Justice Johnson Lam had stated that the courts will not lightly interfere with the Director's exercise of discretion and that "humanitarian considerations are not reviewable in courts" (Lau Kong Yung vs Director Immigration [1999]).

Judge Lam also ruled that it was not necessary for the court to come to any conclusion on the impact of the refusal of Tecson's extension of stay on the future of Zahrah Ahmed.

He further rejected the argument that Comilang needed to leave Hong Kong with her daughter, simply because she had custody of the child.

"The Family Court has jurisdiction to reconsider the question of custody when (Comilang) has to leave Hong Kong. One option is to grant custody to the father. Another option is to grant leave to relocation. It is entirely a matter for the Family Court to decide in view of the prevailing circumstances and the best interest of the child," said Justice Lam.



View print version
of The SUN:

The Sun Part 1







  4 www.sunweb.com | The SUN Internet Edition | All rights reserved